Tom Ridge endorses Huntsman for some reason

I suppose this technically qualifies as news.

Once upon a time, I thought Ridge might jump in and challenge Bob Casey next year for Senate in Pennsylvania. Not happening, though, apparently: If it was, he’d back either Romney or Perry to get some reciprocal juice.

In a statement by the Huntsman campaign, Ridge said Thursday that Huntsman is “a serious, insightful leader.”…

Ridge was appointed as the first secretary of Homeland Security by President George W. Bush. During the last presidential campaign he worked to support Sen. John McCain.

Ridge said Thursday that Huntsman’s experience as a governor, businessman and ambassador make him “uniquely qualified to lead America to a more secure, prosperous and competitive future. He has the experience we need to rebuild our nation’s economic foundation and reduce our crushing debt.

“I know Jon to be a serious, insightful leader who will bring together people from across the political spectrum to solve the many challenges we face, both at home and around the world.”

He’s famously pro-choice, which makes him a natural match for the most centrist-y centrist in the race, and Huntsman’s advisors probably had an inside track with him given the mutual overlap with McCain’s 2008 campaign. I think this is politically shrewd too, notwithstanding Huntsman’s longest-of-longshot candidacies. If Ridge backed Romney, no one would notice amid the flood of other big-name Republicans lining up behind him. By rolling the dice on Huntsman, he stands out and gives himself a chance to say “I was there first” if the impossible happens and JH wins New Hampshire.

Exit question: Scoff if you like that Ridge is yesterday news, but wouldn’t Perry have loved to have this endorsement? It would have given him instant cred on electability, as someone who can appeal to moderates, and on national security given Ridge’s DHS pedigree. And no, their disagreement on abortion wouldn’t have been an obstacle. Remember who it was, after all, that earned Perry’s own endorsement three years ago.

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